Musculoskeletal pain and pain conditions are common at a chiropractic clinic. Sometimes it is not an apparent injury or illness but an underlying cause originating from an internal organ referring pain to the related somatic/bodily structures. This is known as a viscerosomatic reflex or disturbance. This reflex is localized visceral stimulus that produces a response in segmentally related somatic structures. It affects the musculoskeletal system’s bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons resulting from a visceral pathologic state or disease.
A viscerosomatic reaction happens when a pain signal from an organ gets passed on through the spinal cord, where neurons and peripheral motor structures like the muscles, blood vessels, and skin are interconnected/linked. The life-saving techniques that include the Heimlich maneuver and CPR chest compressions are examples of how one part of the body/organ can get affected/injured/ill and is remedied by treating another part of the body.
Common signs and symptoms include:
Pathology is the study of the causes and effects of disease or injury. A disease or injury in an organ or organ system creates a response in the somatic system. Visceral reflexes produce non-skeletal muscular responses in internal organs like the heart, blood vessels, and organs.
Somatic and visceral reflexes are two types of neural circuits generated by systems within the peripheral nervous system. These are the somatic nervous system which produces bodily reflexes, and the autonomic nervous system, which creates visceral reflexes. Both are essential for coordinating the central nervous system and the affected organ/s. The difference between somatic and visceral reflexes is that somatic take place in skeletal muscles, and visceral occur in soft tissue organs.
Medical practitioners have accepted particular body organ associations/links, for example:
Another example is the right shoulder and upper back pain can indicate liver and gall bladder distress and disease.
Chronic somatic problems can originate from within the body unless an obvious result of a traumatic incident. It is essential to pay attention to viscerosomatic reflexes because if left untreated, it could lead to chronic problems with multiple issues.
Chiropractic can bring natural pain relief through their understanding and developed medical skill sets that include the capacity to mobilize the viscera and joint structures, to restore body stability and health. This expanded understanding, combined with the chiropractic physician’s knowledge of neuroendocrine reflex systems, can help develop a personalized plan to achieve better health.
Akinrodoye MA, Lui F. Neuroanatomy, Somatic Nervous System. [Updated 2021 Nov 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556027/
Bath M, Owens J. Physiology, Viscerosomatic Reflexes. [Updated 2022 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559218/
Christianson, Julie A., and Brian M. Davis. “The Role of Visceral Afferents in Disease.” Translational Pain Research: From Mouse to Man, edited by Lawrence Kruger et al., CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, 2010.
Foreman, R D. “Integration of viscerosomatic sensory input at the spinal level.” Progress in brain research vol. 122 (2000): 209-21. doi:10.1016/s0079-6123(08)62140-8
Sikandar, Shafaq, and Anthony H Dickenson. “Visceral pain: the ins and outs, the ups and downs.” Current opinion in supportive and palliative care vol. 6,1 (2012): 17-26. doi:10.1097/SPC.0b013e32834f6ec9
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